What are the Cleaning Uses of Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)?

What are the Cleaning Uses of Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

TSP or trisodium phosphate is a chemical substance mostly used in cleaning agents. It is also known as E339 or sodium phosphate. Other substances which contain TSP include food additives, stain remover and degreaser.
TSP is mostly found in the form of a white, grainy or crystalline material. It is soluble in water and once dissolved, produces an alkaline solution
TSP was the most preferred raw material for a variety of consumer grade soaps and detergents until the 1960ís. Post this era, usage of TSP in consumer goods has been decreased due to ecological concerns.

TSP is The Most Powerful Oil Degreaser
The most useful quality of TSP is its ability to reduce grease and oils. When combined with surfa ctants, TSP cleaners are the best aid to clean both soft and hard surfaces
TSPís Wide Applicability in Industrial Usage
TSP is also used as a cleaner in large scale industrial tasks. In industrial usage, it is used in the form of a concentrated water solution, which when applied onto metal such as copper, dissolves copper oxides. Once this task is completed, most often a whitish residue may remain behind. This residue can easily be removed with water.

TSP is a Pre Paint Expert
TSP cleaners are also used to clean off, or degrease walls before a new paint job. This is mainly due to the ability of TSP to break through glossy, oily paints and latex based paint.
Prepping surfaces with TSP, prior to painting is probably the most common use of TSP cleaners. There are alternative methods of cleaning walls, but the most effective method to date, is to use a TSP cleaner. When walls or surfaces are prepped with TSP prior to painting there is no need to sand off the surface. This reduces labor cost and time.††

Chimney Cleaning with TSP Adds Years to its Heating Capability
TSP is also used as a cleaning agent to get rid of soot, smoke and chalk stains from chimneys, walls and other surfaces. It also effectively removes mildew and mildew stains when used together with bleach.

Grout, Mildew and Dirty Roofs All Clear up with TSP
TSP cleaners are highly effective at cleaning dried grout, moss and other stains from roofs.† To complete this task, add a few drops of TSP to water to make a diluted solution. †You may also want to ensure that the solution is applied to the surface with a brush. TSP can be quite hazardous when it comes into contact with skin and certain other materials.


  • TSP cleaners are generally not advisable to be used in bathrooms. This is because TSP can cause metal surfaces like taps and showers to stain easily. Staining decreases the life of plumbing fixtures and causes them to rust easily. In addition to this TSP can also damage ceramic tiles. It is a good idea to use bleach as a cleaner in the bathroom. In cases of heavy duty cleaning, only a small amount of TSP cleaner may be added to a water and bleach solution.  
  • TSP can also damage skin and other body parts. In extreme cases it can burn the skin and damage the eyes. Therefore it is essential that gloves are worn when handling TSP cleaners. In addition to this, experts also advise that other personal protective equipment like eyes and clothes protection is also used when using TSP.
  • Any foliage near where TSP is to be used should be soaked with plain water prior to the application of TSP, and rinsed down afterward. Be sure to read and follow all warnings on the product's packaging.

Friendly DIY Alternatives to TSP Cleaners

Some friendly alternatives and easy DIY options to TSP cleaners are:

Lemon Juice
Undiluted lemon juice is highly effective on mildew and mildew stains

White Vinegar

Vinegar is highly effective on glue residue, mildew stains and mold. A mixture of vinegar, borax and warm water makes a highly effective cleaning agent, in the absence of Trisodium Phosphate.

Washing powder or soap is also a great aid for cleaning common surfaces. They are also extremely friendly and easy to use in all areas of the home.

Baking soda
The ever reliable baking soda is an excellent choice for cleaning multiple surfaces, and is a friendly alternative to Trisodium Phosphate. When combined with vinegar and warm water, baking soda can remove a variety of tough stains. A paste of baking soda and water can be used to remove tough stains from walls.

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